Colombia: Bogotá unionist found dead

Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas

The body of Colombian unionist Guillermo Rivera Fuquene was found buried in a garbage dump in a rural area of Ibague, Tolima department, on July 15. Rivera Fuquene, an economist in the Bogotá Controller’s Office and the president of the Public Services Union of Bogotá (Sinserpub), disappeared on April 22 after putting his daughter on a school bus in the Tunal section of the capital. According to his wife, Sonya Betancur (also given as "Sonia Betancourt"), the last news she heard after his disappearance was that he had been detained by the police. The center-left Democratic Alternative Pole (PDA), of which Rivera Fuquene was a member, said it had indications from a witness and videotapes that the Bogota police were involved. The authorities in Ibague determined that Rivera Fuquene was strangled and then buried on April 28.

In a press conference in Bogotá on July 15 after Rivera Fuquene’s body was identified, members of the Unitary Workers Confederation (CUT) charged that the government was carrying out a "dirty war" against members of leftist groups. The CUT demanded an investigation into the murder and said "the facts demonstrate that, contrary to the official propaganda, there still aren’t sufficient guarantees on the part of the state" for leftists "to exercise constitutional rights to life, liberty and union organizing and participation." (Notice from Confederacion de Trabajadores de Colombia, July 15; El Tiempo, Bogotá, July 17; TeleSUR, July 18)